Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Importance of Spelling?

The Importance of Spelling

This is a great essay from the NYT blogs on typos and spelling, and I have to recommend it heartily.

"Some readers like to see portraits of authors they admire, study their personal histories or hear them read aloud. I like to know whether an author can spell. Nabokov spelled beautifully. Fitzgerald was crummy at spelling, bedeviled by entry-level traps like “definate.” Bad spellers, of course, can be sublime writers and good spellers punctilious duds. But it’s still intriguing that Fitzgerald, for all his gifts, didn’t perceive the word “finite” in definite, the way good spellers automatically do. Did this oversight color his impression of infinity? Infinaty?"

Lots of great comments and debate happening, and well worth reading.

Best comment ever: GO BUY A COMMA! Amen.

I'm on the fence about this, because I do see the English language as a fluid, evolving thing. On the other hand, I know that even the tiniest typo can niggle at the mind and distract a reader from a great story.

Your thoughts? Do you feel that the digital age and the expansion of platforms that use limited characters (twitter, texts, etc.) are a natural evolution of the language or a sign of the End Times.

1 comment:

  1. I do find the new wave of digital-age writing rather irritating from time to time (especially when I have no idea what certain acronyms mean), but I don't see it bearing any real threats on the literary world. I mean, it's not as if you see an abundant trend of dumb-downed language littering literature -- especially when concerning young, emerging writers. And I'm willing to bet any number of authors, these days, use limited characters when typing on their cellular telephones and electronic-mailing devices, but nevertheless maintain a strong focus on language when writing stories, essays, journals, et cetera. And why is that? Because it's merely a different writing platform . . . like fiction versus nonfiction; philosophical prose versus scientific prose; journalism versus research -- all vary with writing style.

    There will be (and already has been) text-style writing to appear in the literary world from time to time, but I don't think it's going to write itself (pun intended) into history as a new literary convention. Sure, there are some phrases and/or words that will undoubtedly be adopted, but overall, I don't think it'll amount to anything more than a different style of writing for a different platform.

    Also, I love a misspelt [sic] word or two. It adds character! And it shows that we are not flawless, no matter how hard we strive to perfect every tiny detail. To think, mistakes still plague us, especially in this day in age with a vast wealth of information and technology at our fingertips. And for such a mistake to be something as trivial and simple as spelling . . . well, that in itself is perfection! The perfection of the non-perfect.